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CPS schools close, charters open

Updated: March 21, 2013 4:58PM

Am I alone in finding it difficult to locate the shell that contains the school in which the children are hidden? The Chicago Public Schools board says there are 100,000 more seats than children and, for this reason, 54 schools must be closed. But under a different shell the board is opening new charter schools, funded by those same precious dollars. Use your tax dollars to place a bet on shell 1 or 2. If you win, you’ll be paid off from tax dollars collected from the Chicago casino!

Frank Moriarty, Chicago Ridge

Catholic school enrollment up

Big Shoulders Fund is an independent foundation that provides up $14 million in annual support to 93 inner-city Chicago Catholic schools that educate nearly 24,000 children. In contrast to the national trend of declining Catholic school enrollment referenced in a March 19 op-ed, our elementary schools’ enrollment has been on the rise for three years through efforts focused on marketing and need-based scholarships. Fundraising has increased each year.

While I regret the recent announcement of five Catholic school closures, three of which are Big Shoulders Fund schools, I would like to reassure your readers that there is strong leadership working tirelessly on behalf of children here in Chicago. Specifically, Big Shoulders is working toward an agreement with the Archdiocese of Chicago to prevent additional closures while significantly increasing Big Shoulders Fund’s support for access for hundreds of new students, especially in the most underserved communities. Big Shoulders Fund will take a leadership role, in collaboration with the Archdiocese, to help several key schools become increasingly viable.

Under the leadership of co-chairmen James O’Connor, John Canning and Monsignor Kenneth Velo, Big Shoulders has partnered with Chicago’s civic community — Catholic and non-Catholic — to raise millions of dollars for academic programs, scholarships and operational improvements. Engaging leaders from all sectors is an important component when reimagining the future of Catholic schools.

Joshua D. Hale,

president and chief executive officer,

Big Shoulders Fund

A sad situation

I read the letter to the editor about the dangers in all neighborhoods for children. The young writer said that she would like to go outside and take a walk but cannot do this because of the gangs and violence. This is the saddest letter I ever read. When I was a kid there was crime but we were safe outside.

When my oldest three children were young they could play outside all day. My youngest child now in his 20s was safe till he was about 8 or 9. Then things started to change in our neighborhood, and it wasn’t safe for him to be outside.

It has been in the last 10 years that going outside to play became a thing of the past. I would drive my youngest child to a park in a safer neighborhood to play. Most of his friends moved out of our neighborhood but there was one family that stayed and I would take their kids with us. We even had to trick or treat at Halloween in a different neighborhood.

Today, the kids in my neighborhood often have gang members as parents. It is a sad situation. We can blame the police or overcrowding at schools, or poverty, but I had all of those challenges when I was young and yet we could still go outside and be safe. What has happened?

Peggy Zabicki, West Lawn

Renewed excitement

“It is the duty of all believers, to whichever religion they belong, to proclaim that we can never be happy pitted one against the other, the future of humanity will never be able to be secured by terrorism and by the logic of war.” Pope John Paul II made this powerful statement back in 2003. Today I am reminded of this same sentiment as I hear Pope Francis reach out to people of all faiths as well as non-believers and urge peace, respect, and humanity. “We must do much for the good of the poorest, the weak, and those who are suffering, to favor justice, promote reconciliation and build peace.”

As a former Catholic I have a renewed excitement for the church as Pope Francis looks to build bridges of interfaith dialogue and respect — because together, we can promote peace and harmony worldwide.

Erik Cuchna, Crystal Lake

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